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Preview: Blaine's Puzzle Blog

Blaine's Puzzle Blog



Weekly discussion on the NPR puzzler, brain teasers, math problems and more.



Updated: 2018-04-24T11:02:39.409-07:00

 



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 5, 2017): Fall Back to a List of Directors

2017-11-12T06:36:43.286-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 5, 2017): Fall Back to a List of Directors:
Q: Think of the last name of a famous film director. The first two letters and last two letters in order spell a word. And the remaining letters, rearranged, spell a synonym of that word. What film director is it?
I have two answers -- a third if you want to include an Academy Award winning composer.

Edit: Along with the Huston family, the Coppolas are notable for having three generations of Academy Award winners: grandfather Carmine Coppola (best score), father Francis Ford Coppola (best film, director, screenplay and writing) and daughter Sofia Coppola (best screenplay).
A: (Francis Ford / Sophia) COPPOLA --> COLA + POP



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 20, 2017): Don't Stare Directly at this Puzzle

2017-08-20T06:48:10.948-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 20, 2017): Don't Stare Directly at this Puzzle:
Q: Think of two synonyms — one in 5 letters, the other in 4. The 5-letter word starts with S. The 4-letter word contains an S. Change one of these Ss to an A. You can rearrange the result to name a group of people, in 9 letters, that ideally have those two adjectives describe them. What group is it?



NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 9, 2017): Synonyms and an Antonym

2017-07-16T07:13:37.177-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 9, 2017): Synonyms and an Antonym:
Q: Take a certain 7-letter word. Remove the first letter and you get a 6-letter synonym of that word. And the letter you removed is an abbreviation for the opposite of both words. What words are these?
A: FACTUAL and ACTUAL --> F (False)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 8, 2016): Household item

2016-05-12T12:00:37.760-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 8, 2016): Household item:
Q: Name something in 11 letters that's a common household item. You can rearrange the first six letters to form a synonym of a word spelled by the middle three letters. What is the item, and what are the words?
For some reason this was the first thing I thought of today. By the way, if you rearrange the last 6 letters, you can name something else that is a common household item, and something that definitely is NOT.

Edit: Given that Sunday was Mother's Day, Mom was the first thing I thought of. The last 6 letters of the answer can be anagrammed to REMOTE or METEOR.
A: THERMOMETER --> MOTHER and MOM



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 15, 2015): Under the Canopy

2015-11-19T12:38:19.036-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 15, 2015): Under the Canopy:
Q: (image) Think of a word that contains three consecutive letters of the alphabet together — like CANOPY, which contains NOP. Change these three letters to one new letter to make a synonym of the first word. What words are these?

This puzzle reminds me of a joke I heard back in grade-school.

Edit: Here's the joke.
Teacher: "Who can use defeat, detail and defense in a single sentence?"
Johnny: "De-feet and de-tail of de-cat went over de-fence."
A: DEFEAT --> BEAT



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 22, 2015): Roll the Die

2015-03-29T08:36:19.263-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 22, 2015): Roll the Die:
Q: Take the word die. Think of two synonyms for this word that are themselves exact opposites of each other. What two words are these? A hint: they have the same number of letters.
How does the puzzle rate this week? Like? Dislike?
A: PASS, FAIL



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 7, 2014): T is for...

2014-09-13T07:54:10.659-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 7, 2014): T is for...:
Q: Think of a word starting with T. Drop the T, and phonetically you'll get a new word that's a synonym of the first one. What words are these?
My apologies to all for not posting the puzzle on Sunday. I never finished solving the puzzle and therefore forgot to put up a post.
A: TWIRL and WHIRL



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 26, 2014): Remove a Double S to Get a Synonym

2014-02-02T06:27:36.777-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 26, 2014): Remove a Double S to Get a Synonym:
(image) Q: What word, containing two consecutive Ss, becomes its own synonym if you drop those Ss?
Anyone else feel this puzzle might have been more appropriate in a couple months?

Edit: Perhaps in the Spring?
A: BLOSSOM --> BLOOM (and variants like BLOSSOMING --> BLOOMING, BLOSSOMED --> BLOOMED, BLOSSOMS --> BLOOMS)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 17, 2013): Quarrel Synonyms

2013-11-21T15:26:19.979-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 17, 2013): Quarrel Synonyms:
(image) Q: Think of a word meaning "quarrel" in which several of the letters appear more than once. Remove exactly two occurrences of every repeated letter, and the remaining letters can be rearranged to spell a new word meaning "quarrel." What are the two words?
I did not search my synonym list thoroughly enough the first time...

Edit: The first four words "I did not search..." start with I, D, N, S which are the pairs of letters that are removed.
A: MisUndERsTAndiNG --> ARGUMENT



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 2, 2013): I've got 3 words for you...

2013-06-09T04:26:39.762-07:00

(image)
NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 2, 2013): I've got 3 words for you...:
Q: Can you name three common three-letter words that are all synonyms and which together consist of nine different letters of the alphabet? Here's a hint: The letters A and O are not used.
Merl Reagle is one of my favorite puzzle constructors, so I can't add much to this puzzle. If I have the right words, you can rearrange the nine letters to form a pair of words that could be considered synonyms.

Edit: I figured the words had to use the remaining vowels of E, I and U so came up with CUT, HEW and NIP which could be anagrammed to INPUT and CHEW. Others had Merl's intended answer
A: BUG, IRK, VEX



197 Comments

2013-05-30T11:59:04.385-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 26, 2013): G is for..., T is for...:
(image) Q: Think of a word starting with G. Change the G to a T, and rearrange the letters after the T. The result will be a new word with the same meaning as the original word. What words are these?
S.S. last week, J.C. this week.

Steven Spielberg was the director mentioned last week. James Cameron directed Titanic.
A: GIANT --> TITAN



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 2, 2012): What did you eat under there?

2012-12-06T12:00:23.698-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 2, 2012): What did you eat under there?:
(image) Q: Name two articles of apparel — things you wear — which, when the words are used as verbs, are synonyms of each other. What are they?
Been there, done that.

Edit: This was essentially a repeat of the NPR puzzle for June 28, 2009
A: SOCK and BELT



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 1, 2012): Retail Therapy

2012-07-05T12:55:39.446-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 1, 2012): Retail Therapy:
Q: Think of a well-known retail store chain in two words. Remove one letter from its name. The remaining letters, in order, will spell three consecutive words that are synonyms of each other. What are they? Hint: The three words are all slang.
I didn't immediately get the answer because they've been getting rid of most of these stores in our area. And the answer I have is technically one word, not two.

Edit: The hint was "getting rid of" which could be another slang synonym.
A: OfficeMax (remove the M) = Off, Ice, Ax as synonyms for "kill"



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 30, 2011): Q to N, Synonym Puzzle

2011-02-03T12:28:56.899-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 30, 2011): Q to N, Synonym Puzzle:
Q: Think of a common word that's six letters long and includes a Q. Change the Q to an N, and rearrange the result to form a new word that's a synonym of the first one. What are the words?
I'm feeling this puzzle could be hard... how about you?

Edit: I had a couple hints, one about how you might feel and then hard was a synonym for "uneasy".
A: QUEASY - Q + N --> UNEASY



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 2, 2011): First Puzzle of the New Year

2011-01-06T12:07:52.899-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 2, 2011): First Puzzle of the New Year:
Q: Take a plural noun that ends with the letter S. Insert a space somewhere in this word, retaining the order of the letters. The result will be a two-word phrase that has the same meaning as the original word, except in the singular. What word is this?
Hmm... the first puzzle of the new year is usually easy. I would like to say I have it, but the answer currently eludes me. I'm positive I'll get it eventually.

Edit: Yes, I had the answer despite what I wrote. Here are my hints: "Easy" is an anagram of the answer. "I have it" is close to the phrase "the ayes have it". If you combine "say" with the "e" in eludes, you also get the letters in the answer. And "positive" was a hint to "yes" being a positive response.
A: AYES --> A YES



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 22): Okie-Dokie!

2010-01-10T07:28:17.080-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 22): Okie-Dokie!:
Q: Think of a word containing the consecutive letters O-K. Remove the O-K, and you'll get a new word that's a synonym of the first word. What words are these?
The first thought I had when I figured out this puzzle was the Latin phrase "cavit lukom". You can argue that I haven't got the right conjugation but looking back on it, I still contend that the clue is useful nonetheless.

Edit: If you followed my hints you would take that bogus Latin phrase and write it backwards as MOKULTIVAC. After removing the OK you have MULTIVAC. If you Google for that you'll find that Isaac Asimov had a loosely connected series of stories involving a fictional computer called Multivac. One of those stories was Jokester (1956).
A: JOKESTER --> JESTER



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 23): I like knocking down pins

2010-01-10T07:41:04.402-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 23): I like knocking down pins:
Q: Think of two words that each mean 'bowler.' Put them together, one after the other, and you'll name a sport in two words that is not related to bowling.
On a different note, remember how bowling used to be frequently televised? I don't think I've seen it that much these days...

Edit: There isn't much need for me to explain my hints, but the title refers to knocking things down. That applies to bowling or the answer to the puzzle. Similarly, both bowling and this sport used to be frequently on TV, all the time it seemed in the early 70s; now not so much.
A: ROLLER DERBY



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 16): Beware of Invisible Cows

2010-01-10T07:41:45.376-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 16): Beware of Invisible Cows:
Q: Think of a common street sign with three words: four letters in the first word, four letters in the second word and three letters in the last. Drop the last letter of the first word in the sign and you'll get a new word that is a synonym of the last word in the sign. What is the sign?
Mr. Shortz states that it is a "common street sign" so I'm sure it's not Beware of Invisible Cows. However, I'm suspicious; I've looked up and down a list of Road Signs and don't see the answer. No doubt I'm thinking too hard so let me ponder this a bit more.

Feel free to add clues in the comments, but no outright answers or spoilers, please.

Edit: Remember Will didn't say traffic signs. That was a clue. In addition, hopefully my clue indirectly made you think of animals.
A: CURB YOUR DOG (Cur = Dog)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 5): I Won't Divulge the Answer

2010-01-10T07:47:15.094-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 5): I Won't Divulge the Answer:
Think of two terms that mean 'to divulge information.' Write them one after the other with no spaces between words. The result is a nine-letter word for a card that you might hold in a card game. What card is it?
I must admit I've been a little pre-occupied getting ready for our trip so I didn't add a post earlier. We'll be gone by the time Thursday rolls around, so I won't be entering this week. But feel free to discuss it here. Incidentally, do you know where we are going? I wonder if it was inspired by a recent puzzle...



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 28): Apparel Synonyms

2010-01-10T07:47:57.845-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 28): Apparel Synonyms:
Q: Take 'tire' and 'exhaust.' They're both things a car has. But as verbs, in a non-car sense, they're synonyms. The challenge is to name 2 articles of apparel, things to wear, each with 4 letters, and as verbs, in a non-apparel sense, the 2 words are synonyms. What words are they?
No hints are necessary, just pay attention to the example Will gave.

Edit: For the on-air puzzle, Will gave the example "Hit or Miss" with *Hit* being a synonym for both verbs. And incidentally, after a pair of socks go in the dryer, one always seems to go *miss*ing.
A: BELT and SOCK



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 14): Ready for a test?

2010-01-10T07:49:03.500-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 14): Ready for a test?:
Q: Think of one word that starts with 'te' and another word that starts with 'st' — and they're synonyms. Hint: The 'te' word has two syllables; the 'st' word has one.
Anyone else worried that there might be several possible answers this week? I always hated when teachers had one answer in mind on a test that was worded such that there could be several potential answers. On the other hand, it must be hard as a teacher to design a test so it accurately measures whether students understood the material that was taught. Oh well, we'll see at the end of the week if we passed or failed this test.

Edit: My hints were 'worried ... [about] a test' (stressed), 'taught' (synonym for 'taut' (tense)'. In the first comment, I mentioned 'emphasize' (stress).
A: As I mentioned, there are numerous good answers. The two pairs I liked the most were:
TENSION and STRESS
TEMPEST and STORM
Check the comments to see other choices.



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 22): What's on your desk?

2010-01-10T08:00:07.383-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 22): What's on your desk?:
Q: Name an item often found on a desk. It's a hyphenated word. Add an 'S' to the beginning of each part, and you'll get two synonyms. What's the item?
I'm looking at my desk trying to figure out what this item must be. My desk is pretty clean except for the items I'll eventually need to do my taxes (...that nasty IRS!). My wife was thinking it's something related to "ink" --> sink. I was thinking of something related to "light" --> slight. But neither of those ideas seemed to pan out.

I get the feeling people won't be happy when they hear the answer. Anyone else bothered by the puzzle this week?

Edit: There were quite a few clues in my post: Paperwork that is yet to be handled probably appears in this place, "Nasty IRS" is an anagram of the two synonyms, and "pan" is a synonym for tray, while "out" is an antonym for in.
A: IN-TRAY --> SIN, STRAY



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 8): What is the Country? What are the Synonyms?

2010-01-10T08:01:03.285-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 8): What is the Country? What are the Synonyms??:
Q: Take the name of a country, interchange two consecutive letters. Add an 'e' after the fifth letter. The result will be two synonyms, one after the other. What is the country, and what are the synonyms?
Anyone notice that the language of this country sounds like another synonym?

Edit: The language is Finnish, a homonym for "finish".
A: FINLAND --> FINAL, END



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 25): Starts with M, Ends with M

2010-01-10T08:03:13.391-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 25): Starts with M, Ends with M:
Q: Think of a word that starts and ends with the letter M, drop the first M, insert an O somewhere and you'll get a new word that means the same thing as the first word. What words are these?
Truth be told, I'm not positive I have the right answer so I won't say anything (As they say, "A closed mouth gathers no foot.")

Edit: "Truth" was an obvious hint to the synonyms.
A: MAXIM --> AXIOM



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 18): Everything but the Kitchen Sink

2010-01-10T08:04:11.419-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 18): Everything but the Kitchen Sink:
Q: Name an implement that might be in a kitchen drawer. It's a compound word. Add the letter S after each half of the compound, and you'll get two synonyms. What implement is it?
This one is hard. I've been going crazy trying to think of the answer. For awhile I was stuck on dessert implements (pie slice, icecream scoop, etc.). I just couldn't stop thinking of sweets! Oh well, maybe someone else will know the real answer...

Edit: I was going to say "this one is hard to crack", but I thought that would have been too obvious. The "crazy" clue referred to the synonyms that are eventually formed. "Sweet" really was a reference to Tchaikovsky's "Suite".
A: NUTCRACKER --> NUTS, CRACKERS (as in crazy)